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Positive workforce drug tests hit highest rate since 2004

April 11, 2019

The rate of workforce drug positivity hit a 14-year high in 2018, according to analysis released today by drug-testing firm Quest Diagnostics.

Positivity rates in urine drug tests in the combined US workforce rose to 4.4% in 2018, up from 4.2% in 2017. This is the highest level since 4.5% in 2004 and higher than the 30-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012.

Marijuana remains the most commonly detected substance across all workforce categories: general US workforce; federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce; and combined US workforce, which includes the prior two populations.

In the general US workforce, the positivity rate for opiates — mostly codeine and morphine — showed the largest drop in three years. Positivity declined to 0.31% in 2018.

In the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, positivity for post-accident urine testing rose was 4.7% in 2018, an increase of more than 51% from 2017 and nearly 81% from 2014. The jump in 2018 was largely driven by the addition of prescription opiates to the panel. Post-accident positivity in the general US workforce rose 9% year over year to 8.4% in 2018 and 29% over five years.

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